Friday Night Hero: West Rowan's Dinkin Miller
By Ronnie Gallagher
MOUNT ULLA — Down 15-10 to Statesville midway through the fourth quarter on Friday, West Rowan turned to its H-bomb: Hansen and Hassard.
Offensive linemen Brandon Hansen and Chris Hassard pulled and tailback Dinkin Miller pushed his way into the end zone twice in the final four minutes to continue West’s long winning streak in the North Piedmont Conference.
Who else but Miller would West turn to when the pressure was on? The senior has become the Falcons’ go-to guy in those situations and was the main reason the Falcons were 22-15 winners.
“It put a lot of pressure on me,” Miller said of his team trailing in the fourth period. “I had to step up. I just told myself I had to score and help the team bounce back.”
Statesville returned nine of its 11 top defensive players, and it showed as the Greyhounds kept West out of the end zone in the second half until Miller rose up.
“Those cats are big and physical and they can run,” said West coach Scott Young of Randall Gusler’s team.
By the fourth quarter, Young and running backs coach Jeff Chapman had figured out how to get Miller free. It was to go outside.
“That’s unusual because Statesville is usually fast and athletic,” Chapman said. “It’s hard to get outside on them.”
The backs usually run through the C gap but now, they were told to hit the D gap.
“It literally took us a quarter to get them to do what we wanted,” Young said. “We’ve got the kids programmed so much we were wasting some plays.”
But once Miller had it figured out, West played like a three-time state champ, scoring 15 of the game’s final 22 points.
“That last drive, I said, ‘I’m going with those two seniors Mack (Flanagan) and Dinkin,” Chapman said. “Fortunately for us, they were able to get it done.”
Miller was up to the challenge. He finished with season highs in carries (29) and yards (144). His last two scores were from 2 and 14 yards.
“Dinkin does have that mentality,” Chapman said. “We’ve seen it before. Just go back to the state championship game last year. Whenever we need a big play, he tries to step up. He smells the end zone.
“But,” Chapman added, “we don’t go anywhere without the guys up front.”
Miller credited the big boys too, saying, “I just stayed next to my offensive linemen and ran hard.”
It was a team effort in a big statement game. West was 2-2 coming in and this was the NPC opener.
“It was important because it was the first conference game,” Miller said. “We want to start out on top.”
On top is where Miller currently resides in the county rushing stats. He has churned for 281 yards in his last two games.
It makes Chapman, who groomed K.P. Parks among other great 1,000-yard backs at West, proud. Miller will one day be mentioned in the same breath as some of the great names like Wade Moore, Joe Jackson, Ben Hampton and Lamont Smith. He’s fourth currently in school history.
“When he was a silly little freshman, there were days I wanted to kill him,” Chapman chuckled. “He has really worked hard. I don’t think Dinkin has ever missed a workout or a practice. He’s turned into a good player who has the chance to be one of the top three or four rushers (at West). That says something for him.”